The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity while preserving the mood, emotion and integrity of the live interview, to the extent possible.
We’ll have the audio version of the interview available soon.
BHQ Jason Haley: Hi guys, Jason Haley here with BHQ. Thanks for lettin’ me take a little bit of your time. I know you guys are busy, so let’s just get into it, real quick. First of all, congratulations to both of you on your wins. Winning a professional bass tournament is something I’ve really come to appreciate. I’m 43 years old and have done a lot of things in sports and the outdoors. I’ll tell ya, I don’t think there’s anything harder, I really, really don’t- that and winning a pro golf tournament (anglers laugh). The reason being everyone is so good and there’s very little that separates all these great anglers out there.
BHQ Jason Haley: That’s what I wanted to ask you first. I know it’s been several days, but how’s it feel?
Aaron Britt: You know, it’s almost surreal. It seems as though as the days continue, the more it’s sinkin’ in. It’s funny you made that point about golf tournaments. I actually play golf myself and you’re right. Everyone is just so good and, in order to win these tournaments (and Todd will back me up on this one), some of the things I had happen to me on the third day of the tournament, a lot of times you don’t win and you’ve got to be perfect for three days in a row. You know you’ve got to boat everything you hook, everything has got to go right, and you’ve got to catch ‘em. You’ve got to be around ‘em. It’s one thing to lead the tournament after one day and then come in with 15 pounds the second. You’ve just got to be consistent, you know, I stayed with what was workin’. Normally going into a tournament I’d be looking at eight or nine rods on the deck, but I narrowed it down to about two rods. I picked up a jig for a couple casts, but it was just something I stuck with, but it feels great. Again, especially fishing against the people we compete against and on Clear Lake, which in my opinion is just the hardest lake in the world to win on. To do it against those anglers was a true accomplishment and I’m very, very happy.
BHQ Jason Haley: Sounds like, Aaron, you’re still on a high. I watched FLW Live from my laptop and I could see the emotion there when you got your trophy and I think you actually won a lot of fans, because we all know how hard it is. So, congratulations. How ‘bout you, Todd? How ya feelin’?
Todd Kline: Ya, similar what Aaron said, normally with what I do with broadcasting and surfing I’m pretty comfortable in front of a microphone and a camera and that day I was pretty caught off guard. I did not expect to win that, and especially to win Angler of the Year, as well, but it all just came together and I was kinda just tripped-out by it all. To follow-up on what Aaron said, Ideally you want to fish a perfect day, but I think for me, and I honestly believe for everybody, it doesn’t always go that way and I think the biggest thing is, when you don’t have everything go your way, it’s how you handle it. A lot of guys lose it, immediately when they lose a big fish or break a line or whatever it is those guys that can put that aside immediately, get a line back in the water and get goin’ again are the guys that have the most success. I’ve only been around the fishin’ world for a half-hour, but what I’ve learned is, obviously, you’ve got to make the right decisions, but I think the biggest thing is staying focused, because it’s really easy, with all the variables we face (whether you’re in the back of the boat or the front of the boat), to lose your mind. If you can keep it calm and keep focused, you know, you’ll have results.
Aaron Britt: I wanna say something, real quick. Todd actually helped me tremendously on that third day. To touch on what you just said, there were a few occasions on that third day where it was a battle for me. Things did not go my way, whether it be breakin’ off crank baits or snapping my line, down to my spool or watching him catch five-pounders behind me in areas. He was very adamant about me continuing to cast and stay positive. He told me, and I quote, “you keep casting, you’re gonna catch a big one” and it ended up happening. So I really do want to thank Todd for helping me out and really keeping me focused. I mean, he nailed it. This game is 85 percent mental. Anyone can skip a bait under a dock, but it’s how you put it together and how you handle yourself and compose yourself when things don’t go your way. So I do have to thank Todd for having helped me out in a BIG way. Anyone else on the back of the boat that day, I don’t think would have had the impact on how I finished my day out. So, thank you very much, Todd.
Todd Kline: Ya, thanks Aaron. Very much appreciate it, brother.
BHQ Jason Haley: Todd, let me ask you. You won before, right, as a co-angler? Where was that at?
Todd Kline: I won last year at Roosevelt and then this year’s first event at Havasu.
BHQ Jason Haley: How does this one stack up? In your book?
Todd Kline: You know, you say it every time, but for me I wouldn’t say one of my strong points is crankin’, but I came across this in practice and you know, all of a sudden, once you have confidence in something and you believe in something you gotta go with that. That’s what I did and I was fortunate that, each day, my pros were not necessarily always around the right water (except the final day), but at least it was, for the most part, water that was conducive to throw a crank and I had confidence enough to do it. So for me to win on a bait that I don’t usually fish, was not only a great learning experience to give me confidence going forward with that bait, but it felt good to win. And again, for me, the biggest thing was I HAD to win. And I didn’t know this going into the tournament. I had to win in order to get Angler of the Year. Second place, I would have tied the guy, and I don’t know what a tie means.
BHQ Jason Haley: Amazing. I wanted to ask both you guys about your expectations coming into this tournament. Honestly, did you think you could win? Or, where you just trying to cut a check?
Aaron Britt: It’s funny you ask that, because I fish with Paul Bailey on frequent occasions. He lives on that lake and he knows that lake better than just about anybody. He’s my team partner and we’d fished a team TOC the previous weekend and we were literally junk fishing. You know, we were catching fish on a trap, we were catching fish on a deep crank, a shallow crank and a few fish on a Carolina rig. But going into this tournament, believe it or not, me and Paul had this discussion before the tournament started. We were both so nervous. We were catching a lot of fish on a square bill before the tournament-and I’d talked to him before the tournament and we were both about as scared as we’ve ever been going into a tournament because we never really had anything locked down. We knew what we could catch ‘em on. We knew where some fish were swimmin’, but we never really caught any big fish. I had one about nine pounds in practice, but other than that, I was catchin’ 21 pounds during practice. I lot of times that will happen. You know there are guys that are on good fish and big fish in the week prior to the tournament and they come to the tournament and it just doesn’t work out for them. But it was almost the complete opposite for me. I narrowed all my areas down to about seven areas on the first day of the tournament and as the tournament progressed I had three areas. Todd will vouch for me. We went back and forth in three primary areas and fished ‘em, about as hard as you could. But no, I really didn’t. And I think that probably happens for a lot of guys. This was the complete opposite of what Todd said about cranking. You know, I love to crank! I’m a big time cranker. I love to throw a deep crank bait. I love to throw a big jig on deep structure and off-shore stuff. I’m very good at reading my graph and putting my boat where it needs to be for the best chance at getting bit and this so happen to be one of those tournaments where I was able to do one of my strong suits. I LOVE to crank! It takes a toll on ya for doing it as long as we did, but going into it I really didn’t expect anything. I knew I was going to be throwing a crankbait, but I didn’t really know I was going to stumble upon the couple of areas I did and it just so happen to work out, so I’m very fortunate.
BHQ Jason Haley: Aaron, safe to say this is the biggest win of your career, as a pro?
Aaron Britt: Most definitely! I’ve won a bunch of tournaments, but this is, I mean, fishing against Brett Hite and (Jared) Lintner and Ish Monroe. I remember, I skipped school when I was a kid to go fishing. All I ever wanted to do was catch fish. You know, every fish I catch I let go. I don’t believe it getting ‘em out of the water. I’ve just always been a fanatic and addicted to catching fish, whether it be trout in a stream where I grew up fishing, salmon on the river, trollin’ for striper. The year before I got out of high school I got to go to Clear Lake with a guide and that was all it took to make me realize this is something I wanted to put more effort into. My parents have been as supportive as anyone could possibly be. They believe in me, and that’s what it takes. It takes people to believe in you and, most importantly, to believe in yourself. This is just validates, in my opinion, where I belong and I don’t plan on going anywhere any time some.
BHQ Jason Haley: You just answered my next question, Aaron, and I’m gonna come back to that in a minute, but real quickly, Todd, your expectations before the tournament. Did you think you could win.
Todd Kline: Nah….as a co-angler you can never expect to win. You’ve gotta go into it with confidence and you can really build upon that confidence if you’re able to find something in practice. Each tournament that I have won, I’ve discovered a bait in practice that helped me think, you know, I can do well in this tournament if I can get into water that will allow me or be conducive to fish this particular bait, I’ll be all right. I got on that crank bite in practice and, you know, the first day I only had three keepers, but they were good ones that were maybe 15-16 pounds, so I was on the right grade and I’ll take that over a limit of worm fish, or whatever else that might only be ten pounds. So I went into it with that might set. I’ve got the right bait, so I just need to stick with it and it paid off. But as far as what I expected going into the tournament, I didn’t really expect that much, really. Before I came up from Southern California, I was just excited to get back to Clear Lake. It’s one of the best bass lakes in California. Last year I started out good. I was like fourth after day one and then I fell on my head day two and never really got any of those big fish. That was the main thing for me.
BHQ Jason Haley: Where’s your hometown, Todd?
Todd Kline: I’m in San Clemente, California, down in Southern California.
BHQ Jason Haley: Oh, ok. Question for both you guys: and Aaron already talked about this a little bit, but competing at this level you must have confidence. Just share with BHQ readers, if you can, if you don’t mind, what separates you guys, what makes you different, not just in this event, but going forward in your careers. What, if anything, gives you the edge? I know there’s some things that I had growing up that I feel like kind of helps me going forward, but luckily I didn’t win a tournament so I don’t have to share it (laughs). Aaron you touched on your experience, a little bit, as a youngster.
Aaron Britt: Ya, you know, ever since I was able to walk, I remember driving by anything that had water in it and I’d ask my dad, “Are their fish in there?” I’ve just always been addicted to talking about water and fish and me being able to catch them. When I was younger I was able to get dropped off at the river. I’d borrow my mom’s watch. I’d put it on my wrist. I’d wade in the water in my waders they’d buy me and I’d catch trout and let ‘em go on Rooster Tails.
I’ve just always been addicted to fishing and over the past seven or eight years I’ve been tournament fishing. I started out doing a lot of the rookie events, the Future Pro Tour with my dad, who got me into fishing, but as I became older, he bought me a boat and I was able to go out and do all this on my own. What separates me, in my opinion, is I fish a lot. I haven’t had a job in quite some time, four or five years. I’m on the water a lot! The only way to get better is to do it. You know you can watch programs, you can go on the internet and read all this stuff, but until you experience it and get out there and do it for yourself, you really don’t understand it. But, it’s just having confidence. Man, for a long time I felt like I could compete with these guys and financially it was always an issue.
I fished on the back of the boat for two years before I got my boat. I fished five events as an am and I think I got two top-tens, two top-twenties and 1 tournament I didn’t do well at all and, actually, it was Clear Lake. But financially it was always a problem for me. My parents stepped up to the plate. They agreed to pay half my tournament entry fees last year. I had an ok year last year, but in order to fish these tournaments and fish with the best of them, you cannot afford to go into them scared, so to speak. I fish out of a ’94 boat. Well, I do now, but I’m getting another one this week, so I’m pretty stoked about it. You know you see all these wrapped boats and the big boats with the power poles and the big graphs on them and it’s intimidating. If people tell you it’s not, then they’re lyin’. You cannot get by in a little 18-foot boat and I’ve won some big tournaments out of it, which also helps with your confidence, but you just can’t let these guys get in your head.
You’ve gotta go out and stick to your guns and do what you do and have confidence in the pattern that you’re on that’s gonna win ya a tournament and it just so happened to be that this was my time. But we all have good tournaments and we all have bad tournaments and in order to be a good winner you gotta learn how to become a good loser, and I’ve been a good loser quite a few tournaments in my lifetime. This is my dream. Again, I eat, live and shit bass fishing, and that’s the God honest truth (laughs).
I don’t sleep at night before going out fishing. I close my eyes and I think about where I’m gonna go first thing in the morning. I think about where I’m going to position my boat, the color of jig I want to throw and what kind of rod for what type of structure I’m going to be fishing. It just means the world to me to win this tournament. I’ve had people that I don’t even know hit me up to congratulate me on winning this tournament. I’ve had high school kids, college kids hit me up and tell me that I push them and that makes them want to be something big and it’s really just a dream come true, and I really just can’t say enough about how much this means to me and how excited I am that I can officially tell people who I’m a professional fisherman and I plan on winning a bunch more. I’m truly, truly ecstatic. There’s really no other way to put it.
BHQ Jason Haley: That’s cool. It really is. I’m not gonna put down that you’re advocating kids skipping school, though. (laughs)
Aaron Britt: Back then, I used to have this motor scooter. I’d actually catch fish and put their gills on the handlebars, then drive back home and give them to my neighbors, who loved to eat fish. Don’t skip school. Stay in school. It’s extremely important, as everyone knows. Unless you like fish as much as I do, then go fishin’.
BHQ Jason Haley: Todd, what about you. I know you’re a surfer and I saw your website, which is a nice website, by-the-way.
Todd Kline: Ya, I know the guy that sells them if you need one. (chuckles and cracks)
BHQ Jason Haley: What’s your angle, what is it that separates you, why are you doing so well? Isn’t this your third big win as a co?
Todd Kline: Yep. Ya, ya. First off, that was awesome, Aaron. For me, and I honestly believe, and Aaron back me up on it, it’s 85 percent between the ears. I learned that through my sport prior, which was surfing. I used to watch a lot of guys come through the ranks with so much talent, but as soon as they put a jersey on they were a different person. It’s the same thing in fishing. You can be an amazing fisherman, win practice every tournament, be able to skip it right up under a dock, or do whatever, ya know, but as soon as they call your boat number, you’ve already lost, dude, you’re mentally just a case.
Obviously, there are a lot of decisions that are made when your fishing from the front, but when you’re in the back and you can’t make all the decision, it can really be trying, and a lot of guys lose it. Kind of going back what I talked about before, you have to have a game plan going in, not only from the front, but especially from the back. If it’s conducive for what you want to do, do it, but you better be ready for when it’s not. I always try to find a deep bite and a shallow bite and that way wherever I’m going, I’m ready for that moment. In addition, have some other stuff tied on, so that when you do come by that one clump of grass you can pitch it or maybe throw a frog on it. No what you’re going into.
Part of that comes from doing research and asking questions and your own experience on the water, because you’ve got to be ready. If you go out there with one spinning rod and a drop-shot, ya you might win, but the odds are against ya. So I just try to eliminate as many of the elements that I can’t control, focus on the ones I can and whatever bait that’s workin’ out there, and when you do encounter those elements that are challenging, just know that somebody else is experiencing the same thing, maybe even worse and they’re freaking out and have already sat down and they’re eatin’ a sandwich. Just keep a line in the water and kick their ass.
BHQ Steve Adams: Can we talk a little about something we talked about the other day and that’s your mindset as a co-angler, because I think that’s something that separates you.
Todd Kline: Absolutely. As soon as you step in the boat, maybe even before you step in, when you first meet your partner, however you approach him is how he’s going to approach you.
Aaron Britt: I couldn’t agree with you more, Todd.
Todd Kline: Ya, you’ll get those odd ones that are totally nice and you’ll get other ones that are just a complete buffoon and no matter how nice you are and no matter how much respect you show them, you’re just never gonna get it, but regardless you’ve got to do the right thing. They’ve got more money invested. They’re fishing from the front; if I want to make the decisions I need to pay the money and fish from the front. In the meantime, you go into it with the mindset that you’ve got to make the most of what you can. I’ll ask a lot of questions and kind of feel out what that guy’s about and then look for windows of opportunity. If someone’s fishing shallow, I’ll say you mind if I go deep, if they’re fishing deep I’ll say you mind if I go shallow. I did that with Aaron and I had tons of water and Aaron said, “hey, no problem, I’m fishing deep, you go shallow.” It doesn’t always work out that way, but if you don’t show the respect and don’t ask the questions, you’ll never know.
BHQ Jason Haley: I’m interested to see how you worked that out, but I’ll move this along. It’s a sport of ups and downs, was there a point during the tournament when you didn’t think it was going to happen? (laughs)
Aaron Britt: Probably about seven or eight different occasions on the third day. Day one was good to me. I stumbled across an area that I fish pretty frequently, at all times of the year up there. It’s a community hole; it’s called Glenhaven Reef, which is a big reef on the Highway 20 side. It’s known for numbers. I stopped there the first day of the tournament and caught two six-and-a-halves and a five on it. That told me that there’s some big fish in that area, because you just don’t catch fish like that if there is not an abundance of them.
I caught two of my biggest fish the first day and never had a fish come off. I had two come off in the net. Then day two I had the same amount of bites. I should have had 26-27 pounds; I had a couple big ones come off on the crank bait, but I still managed to catch close to 19 pounds. Going into the third day I was down by four ounces and this is Clear Lake. You can be down by four pounds or 14 pounds and still come back and win. So I wasn’t too out of the game going into it.
Day three started out with my co-angler catching two big fish behind me. Todd caught like a 5 and I think a 4.5 right behind me, very early in the morning, which is discouraging. Actually, we got to our first spot, speaking of discouraging, we watched a kid that wasn’t in the tournament catch a 9 on a jig within 20 or 30 minutes after we started. I picked up a jig and started firing that thing around and Todd was like, “don’t let that shit get in your head. You’ve been cranking.” I’m like, “dude, I just watched a guy catch a nine on a jig, I’m gonna throw a jig around a couple minutes.” I ended up catching one, which wasn’t very big, on the jig. So that was the way our morning started off.
I didn’t have any fish in the boat for another hour, hour and a half. So I started putting a few of the pieces of the puzzle together, catching a few fish here and there, but I probably lost four or five different crank baits. I’d get hung-up, pull on my line to pop it off and my line would snap down at my reel, and that happened two or three times throughout the day. So I was down. And again, every co-angler I’ve ever drawn has been a class act and Todd was no different. He really, really helped me. He might not have known it during the time, but I was upset and I’m very vocal when something doesn’t go my way. I’m very passionate about this sport. I say the F-word quite a bit. I scream. I cuss. I yell. I throw stuff. But you know, it’s not because of lack of respect. I just want to be the best I can when I’m out there fishin’. Like I said, there were several occasions when told me “take a deep breath, relax” and no co-angler has ever done that because in my opinion most co-anglers could give two shits less about the guy on the front of the boat because they’re not fishing against that guy on the front of the boat, they’re fishing against other co-anglers.
I really believe that Todd helped me. I truly believe that. I saw what I mean and I mean what I say and ya, there were a few times where I felt like I was out of the game and I didn’t think things were gonna go my way, but I want to give him a lot of the credit for pickin’ me up and tellin’ me continue to cast and, like I said, at the end of the day with 30 minutes left I catch a big one and he damn near got a big kiss on the lips (laughter erupts). We hugged on the back of the boat, we were screaming, I was fortunate to have a couple of buddies out there spectating and watched me catch it.
BHQ Jason Haley: Aaron, did you know you had it when you landed the big one?
Aaron Britt: No, I was screaming like I had it, but you know I knew going into it I was down four ounces and I figured I needed 25 pounds. I knew (Mark) Crutcher was on some good fish and I knew Kerr would catch some, but Jared Jennings, I guy no one talks about, he had three fish for 15 pounds on day one and five for almost 28 on the second day, so he was obviously around ‘em and only down a couple of pounds. Going into the day I wanted to get 25. I bumped into Jason Borofka at the gas station in the morning. We were BS-ing and what not and I told him I think I need 25. He said you need 25 and if you come in with 23, you’re just not sure. You wanna go into a weigh-in knowing you have it. I know that big fish helped; I think I culled a two-pounder. That was about a five or a six-pound cull.
I was just ecstatic at that point. We were so damn excited, we netted the fish and left the fish sitting in the net on the front of the boat. We didn’t even put it in the boat! We were hugging and screaming and Todd’s like “dude get the fish of the deck of the boat!” We were just out of control. We put the fish in the box and I culled that fish and I was just a happy camper.
I just can’t thank Todd enough, because you don’t really get that. You get that when you’re fishing a team tournament. When it’s shared weight, they lift you up, but nine times out of ten, when you’re fishing with a co-angler that doesn’t happen. When I get loud and I’m throwing my reels down and I’m upset, they don’t say anything because, you know I don’t blame ‘em. Todd was very professional. He just told me to keep my head up and do what I do and it worked out.
BHQ Jason Haley: Sounds like you didn’t really know you had it till the last guy weighed?
Aaron Britt: Ya, I knew going to the weigh-in that Kyle (Grover), behind me, didn’t have it. He told me he had about 17 pounds, 18 pounds, so I knew I had him beat. Kerr was claiming to have a nine pounder in the bag and I heard Krutcher caught ’em pretty good. Once Krutcher weighed-in it was pretty obvious I had the tournament won, so I’m still on a high, man. I get my boat next Thursday. Everyone keeps telling me, you need to get a new boat and I keep telling people I will never, ever get a new boat unless I win one. It ended up working out. I really couldn’t be anymore happy. And I’m happy Todd won it. I’m just stoked that he’s a part of what happened, too.
BHQ Jason Haley: That answers my last question: what are you going to do with the money. What about you, Todd. Was there a point when you doubted and when did you know you had it?
Todd Kline: A couple of things, based on what Aaron said. Obviously I wanted to see him take that thing down, but one of the things I tried to articulate earlier was yes, you want to win, but you have to make sure and have fun. If you’re not having fun, you might as well get out of it. Part of having fun is making sure the vibe on the boat is good, you know. If you’ve got a guy that’s freakin’ out on the front, it’s not going to be good for anybody. So I was trying to get the vibe of the boat good and at the same time I wanted to see him win. He was that close, no time to give up now.
Going back to, you know, did I think I won, you know you never know, dude. There was a time when we were coming in and I said to Aaron, I said, we both did good today. Regardless of what happens, we can’t ask for anything more. I mean we had a good day and whatever happens, happens. For me, that’s how I approach it, because if you expect anything, even in life in general, you’re gonna get crushed when it doesn’t go your way. But, if you’re happy with what you’re doing and giving it 100 percent, that’s all you can do, you know.
BHQ Jason Haley: You’ve probably been asked a ton about this, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask. What did you catch ‘em on, real quick. Were you pretty much deep crankin’?
Aaron Britt: All day, every day.
Todd Kline: I was using a medium range crank that I could throw as shallow as four feet, keep my rod tip high and slowly reel, just to knock the bottom or if my pro was going into the wind and I was down-wind I could throw it a country mile. I was throwing a 7-11-inch power crank Okuma rod and I could throw that thing a country mile and get it down, at times 15 feet. It was a super versatile deal and, you know, sometimes there’s a benefit to being in the back of the boat. If you’re throwing a crank in the front of the boat, as a pro, you may be getting prime real estate, but you’re not able to cover a lot of water. Meanwhile I’m in the back and I’m able to throw that thing a country mile and I’m hittin’ the bottom for maybe 50 yards. It just depends, ya know.
BHQ Jason Haley: How bout you, Aaron, pretty much deep crankin’ sounds like?
Aaron Britt: Ya, I weighed two fish on a square bill, up shallow, the first day. The problem with a square bill: you can cover 1,000 yards of bank with one and you’d catch one here and one there. When you throw that deep crank out in the deeper water and you catch one, you get ‘em fired up. You could sit virtually in the same spot and catch five or six fish and generally the fish that are fired up are the big ones, because the big ones are more aggressive.
The best way to describe it, I heard it from Britt Myers, the analogy he used, is you take a narrow hallway with a bunch of pit bulls and a big ol’ steak. You start dragging it down that hallway and even if they aren’t hungry one of them is gonna get it before the other one gets it because they just don’t want the other one to get it. That’s kind of how deep crank bait fishing is. You get a school fired up and you can catch a whole bunch of them and I knew that.
I knew that I could cover a bunch of water with a deep crank bait and once I caught one, I could sit in that area and get the school fired up. I used a couple different crank baits. The one that produced the most and biggest fish for me was a SPRO crankbait. It was a SPRO Little John DD and I threw it in really naturally clear colors. One was called Spooky Shad; it’s almost identical to a ghost minnow. The other one was called Clear Chartreuse, which is basically the same thing with a little bit of chartreuse on the side. I caught a couple on a Damiki in an Ayu color, which is similar to a hitch and some on a Norman DD22.
I never really tied on a mid-depth crankbait and it’s funny that you mention that, Todd, because there were a few times in the tournament and in practice when I knew fish were holding in 8 to 14 feet of water. And that’s primarily where most of our bites came. Todd caught a few real, real shallow on bank, but some of those were where the bank was steep and those fish were still holding in that 14-foot zone. Ya, but I never really tied on a medium-depth crankbait and that would probably have been beneficial to me because I think I could have really, really cranked it hard and bounced off those rocks.
I had numerous fish on the first day, when I had that big bag, where the fish actually ate my crankbait coming off the snag. You know I’d be hung up and I’d pop them lose and they’d eat it. Ya, it was basically deep crankbaits.
Todd made a good point, I could throw my deep crankbait in eight feet of water and once I started feeling it hit bottom, I would just hold my rod tip up and just calm down my reel speed. So it was a very versatile bait, but not as versatile as Todd’s. He was throwing a much smaller bait than I was throwing, but he was getting big bites. I think back, there was one fish at the end of the day that was, I think, the biggest one he caught that absolutely choked it. I mean it was gone. He was reeling it up to the boat and he said “I can’t see my crankbait.” We netted it and that bait was crushed all the way down his throat. I just happened to be one of those tournaments where I got to do what I like to do and Todd, I hope Todd learned a lot that day, Crankin’, you know it’s one of my passions. I love to crank like that. He better have learned, because he caught the hell out of them behind me (Todd laughs), so he was doing something right. You know, it was very discouraging. I can’t lie! It happened every day. The first day my co was leading’; he had almost 20 pounds. On day two my co had almost 18 pounds and then Todd wacked them on the third day. So realistically, if they were all one-day tournaments, I think my co-anglers legitimately weighed the biggest bags each day, oh other than Dante (Ray), Dante got ‘em pretty good on day two.
BHQ Jason Haley: Sounds like you were on fish, Aaron, if all your cos did that well. One thing I was curious about….I was wondering how you guys made this work in the non-shared-weight format. I’d pretty much convinced myself that FLW was not for me. I fished one in 2012 and just figured if you were too nice you wouldn’t do well. I looked at the results and the top ten pros, none of their cos caught ANY fish and my cos both cut checks and I didn’t. They caught all the big fish and I didn’t, so I’d pretty much convinced myself that you can’t make it work if you’re a nice guy. You guys made it work. How’d you make it work?
Aaron Britt: I’m very open with my guys. I told Todd, you know Todd was great, I told him I’m fishin’ deep and he would ask if I could go shallow and I said listen, “dude I’m the same with everyone, you can cast wherever you want as long as you don’t cast over my line.” The guy I told that to on the first day was flabbergasted. He said “dude I’ve never had anyone tell that to me before.” I said “no man, if I’ve got the boat pointed up along the bank, fire it up there as far as you want, just don’t hook my line. You can cast wherever you want.” I told Todd that and by the mid-way part of the day he didn’t even have to ask me. He’d just see where I was throwing. If I was throwing out deep, he’d throw out shallow. If I was throwing out shallow, he’d ball one out deep and half the time he’d be throwing them farther up further than I was, in front of the boat, but it wasn’t in my way. As long as you’re not in my way or on top of my line, it doesn’t bother me and that’s why it’s been so helpful to me, but not only me, but the guy fishing behind me.
BHQ Jason Haley: Good guy to fish with, Todd?
Todd Kline: Oh, absolutely, dude. You know I’ve known Aaron for a while now. I met him last year at the Delta, you know, knew of him, we’re friends on social media. I knew he had a connection with BHQ, as well, and you know one of the guys you keep and eye on and see what they’re doing, because he’s one of the guys that’s coming up in the West.
So when we drew each other, you don’t have as much of a honeymoon phase, if you will, trying to figure out what the guy’s about. Again, I try to be, as much as I can, a chameleon. If I’ve got a guy who doesn’t talk all day, then I’m not gonna talk all day. If I’ve got a guy that’s not going to give me much water, then I’m gonna make the most of what I’ve got. We seem to hit it off pretty quick. He gave me plenty of opportunity and I tried to do my best to capitalize on it.
I try to do it with all the pros. If they’re cool to me and respectful to me, I try to do all I can to help them out through the course of the day, whether it’s culling, netting fish or trying to do what I can to keep their head in the game or maybe even make suggestions, if they’re open to it. You just gotta be careful how you approach those things because some guys might take it wrong. So, you know, you try to read people, you try to act accordingly. Whether he wins or I win or we both lose, I’m out there to have a good time and I do my best to make sure everybody does.
BHQ Jason Haley: Well, sounds like you guys are doing things the right way and approaching things the right way and deserved it. I’m happy for both of you, so congratulations.
Todd Kline: I just want to say thanks, again, to Aaron. I look forward to keeping in touch and consider you a friend and look forward to fishing more in the future.
Aaron Britt: Very much appreciate it, Todd. Vice versa, man, you’re a great dude and a hell of an angler and you don’t get classified as being a hell of an angler by winning three tournaments in the past two years, so my hat’s off to you dude and I hope you continue to kick ass and take names. Thanks brother.
BHQ Jason Haley: Todd, let me ask you one more thing before you go. You know you’ve won three pretty big tournaments out of the back of the boat. Now, you know what I’m going to ask you, right? (laughs and shouting)
Todd Kline: Go ahead and ask me. (more laughs)
BHQ Jason Haley: What are your plans, man, for going forward
Todd Kline: Ok. I actually wanted you to ask me and I was gonna say “why?” At this point, I’m having fun out of the back of the boat I feel there’s. …you’re always learning. Even if you’re the best in the world, you’re still always learning. Don’t misquote me on that, I’m not claiming to be the best in the world, but I’m just saying, you know, Kevin Van Dam is still learning, but for me, I’m not ready to go to the front of the boat yet. I’m enjoying where I’m at and with what I’m doing and how I’m approaching it, I’m hoping to just ride this wave a little bit and hoping to align some sponsors that will give me that opportunity once I am ready to make that step. Is it a goal to go to the front? Ya, it’s a goal, you know I want to be there one day, but right now I want to do as much as I can from the back of the boat. Right now, with what I’m doin’ for work with the World Surfing Tour and the ASP, it’s a balancing thing for me. I’ve got a nucleus of income to support my family and the scheduling allows me to participate with the FLW and continue to open doors in that arena and at some point they’ll be a crossroad and I’ll have to make that decision when it happens.
BHQ Jason Haley: Awesome, awesome. Guys thank you so much. Appreciate it.